I’m almost afraid to write this but … I think winter might finally be nearing its end. In a few weeks, turkey season will be in. The sun might shine.
Which, means it’s time to get back to work on some habitat improvements and to freshen up some mineral stations.
Before we get into things, let’s start with a disclaimer: Mineral use is not legal in all states. Even in those states where it is legal, the regulations can be a bit muddy. So make sure you know the laws in your area before following this plan.
I’ve used mineral sites for about 10 years now. They’re an awesome place to capture trail camera images, especially during the spring and summer months.
Unfortunately, mineral sites aren’t legal where I live in Michigan. Well, that’s not exactly correct. You are allowed to use “bait” (and minerals are classified as bait) from Sept. 15 to Jan. 1. There’s a limit of two gallons at a time and you must spread it over a 10-foot by 10-foot area.
To legally establish a mineral station, you’d need to apply the mineral during that Sept. 15 to Jan. 1 time frame and hope it lasts through the spring and summer. I know of guys who do that and I have tried it. But the results, for me, weren’t great.
So my mineral sites will be on the property I hunt in Ohio. Since the Ohio property is about six hours from home, I need to make sure I establish the site and trail cameras correctly. The sites need to last for at least a month.
There’s no shortage of commercially made mineral options available. I’ve tried plenty of them. Some worked better than others. But my own home-brew costs less and seems to work just fine.
It’s a simple combination of one part trace mineral salt to one part fine stock salt with some calcium/phosphorous tossed in. You can even add powdered stock feed flavoring if you want to up the attraction. I get all of these ingredients at a local farm supply store and mix it up in 5-gallon buckets. I can make about 100 pounds of mineral for less than $20.
To apply, I simply scrape out an area about three yards wide and three yards long, pour in half the bucket of mineral and use a stick to mix it with the soil. I then top-dress with about a quarter of a bucket.
I put trail cameras over the mineral site, and that’s that.
For my Ohio area, I’ll be using one camera that can send images via e-mail and a standard camera loaded with a high-capacity SD card. This means I can enjoy looking at deer images until I can make another trip down to replenish the mineral and check the card on the other camera.
There are those who claim mineral stations will increase antler size and help with overall herd health. I don’t know about that. I do know that farmers feed supplemental minerals to livestock – but they feed them in much higher quantities than a wild deer will consume off a mineral site. Thus I’m not sold on mineral stations as having a high level of nutritional impact.
But, I do know they can help load up a camera with photos. And that’s good enough for me.